EU to include airlines in emissions-trading scheme
Airlines will have to start paying for the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) they emit as of 2012, European Union officials agreed in principle in Thursday in what politicians hailed as a landmark move.
But environmental groups criticized the measures as weak and unconvincing even before they had been formally approved by EU member states and the European Parliament, the dpa reported.
The agreement, reached between representatives of the EU's council of member states, its executive (the European Commission) and the parliament, means that as of 2012, airlines operating in Europe will join power stations and chemical factories on the list of companies that have to acquire EU permits to emit CO2.
Initially, 85 per cent of the airlines' permits will be handed out for free, while 15 per cent will be sold at auction, officials said. Airlines which want to fly more - and therefore emit more CO2 - than the amount of permits they hold will have to buy permits from other companies, encouraging them to find ways to reduce emissions.
Under the deal, the total number of permits available will be capped at 97 per cent of the average airline emissions in 2004-06, with the cap to be reduced year by year. Moreover, EU member states can impose a higher level of auctioning, officials said.
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomed the agreement, which still has to be formally approved by EU states and the parliament, calling it a "great success" and saying that "from 2012, binding rules will be fixed for air transport, (a sector) whose greenhouse-gas emissions are rising steeply."
But Brussels-based environmental group Transport and Environment (T& E) condemned the deal as weak and ineffective, saying that it would barely scratch the surface of the problem, as emissions from aircraft are expected to grow by up to 3.5 per cent per year over the next decade.
"Today we should be marking a historic multilateral deal to cut international aviation emissions, but in fact we are marking a historic missed opportunity," T& E spokesman Joao Vieira said.